Distracted Driving

I had the opportunity this past year to visit 28 local Utah high schools and discuss the dangers of distracted driving. I found as I was sharing my message with these teens, that perhaps they weren’t the only ones that needed this message. How often do we see adults who are distracted while driving? While we tend to crack down on the teens because they seem to have more accidents, I believe that we all could benefit from a little more education as to what the dangers are of distracted driving.

Distracted driving is any activity that has the potential to distract an individual from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. American drivers are distracted between one-quarter and one-half of the time, two-thirds drivers use a cell phone while driving.

There are three main types of distractions while driving:

Manual – Taking your hands off of the wheel.
-Texting
-Using your cell phone
-Eating and drinking
-Grooming
-Adjusting the radio

Visual- Taking your eyes off the road.
-Looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle
-Reading a book
-Applying makeup
-Writing
-Texting
-Using your cell phone

Cognitive- Taking your mind off of the road
-Talking on the phone
-Texting
-Writing
-Reading
-Talking to passengers

Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. 47% of American adults who text admit to texting while behind the wheel. 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger. That folks, is our sons and daughters that are in those cars!

Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. When you send or recieve a text you take your eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 second, the equivalent- at 55 mph- of driving the length of an entire football field, blind!

Using a cell phone while driving- whether it’s hand-held of hands-free delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.

Distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. Alcohol-related accidents among teens have dropped. But teenage traffic fatalities have remained unchanged, because distracted driving is on the rise.

If you are a parent, I encourage you to have a serious talk with your children. Take an oath, as a family to put the phone away while in the car. This goes for both parents and children. You lead by example. Your children will do as you do, not as you say. Please help your children be safer as well as yourself. If not for yourself, do it for your spouse or children.

The choice I made almost 11 years ago changed my life dramatically. It wasn’t caused by texting while driving, however it was a poor choice that affected so many lives. The choice that I made perhaps affected my family more than myself. So please, think about the consequences of your actions and who they will affect.

“Children learn what they live. Better be an inspiration for your children to follow. “

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